Being stuck at home can be stressful and cause some physical pain as well. Since I am not able to physically help you in your time of need during this pandemic, I want to at least provide you with some resources to help reduce your discomfort. I asked if there are any areas you would like to know some good stretches for, and I heard that low back and hips were a top priority. So today, I will give some links to stretches that you can do at home for both low back and hips.
Lower back pain can be due to your athletic or workout routines, but it is most likely to be caused by your constant sitting patterns. Most Americans spend a majority of their waking day in a seated position. On a typical day, you sit to drink your morning coffee and eat breakfast. You sit during your commute to get to work. You probably sit at a desk most of the workday, then you sit some more on your commute home. You sit to eat dinner and then you may move to sitting on the couch to “unwind” from the day. Take a minute and think about what is happening to your muscles when you are sitting all day…you are keeping your hamstrings in a shortened position, which causes a strain and tension on your lower back.
So, usually when you tell me you have low back pain, I often ask to work on your glutes, hip flexors, and hamstrings. Why you ask? Take a minute and think about what is happening to your muscles when you are sitting all day. You are keeping your hamstrings in a shortened position, which causes a strain and tension on your lower back. For many people, when their hamstrings and glutes are tight, those muscles will pull downward, causing a strain on your lower back. By relaxing and lengthening your hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors, we are alleviating the low back from taking on the added stress that these tight muscles are causing.
I did some researching and found some helpful links to some stretches that you can do at home to help alleviate that low back pain and hip pain. I tried to find a variety for you to view, from Yoga poses to basic stretches, and that encompass a few difference levels of flexibility. Check them out to see if any work for you.
Some of my favorite stretches that I do almost on a daily (after a nice gentle warmup and walking the dog) are:
*Floor Hamstring stretch
*Variation of Figure 4 stretch (you can sit in happy cow or with the lower leg out straight. Pull bent knee toward you and hug it as you sit up tall for a nice stretch. Then rest the bent leg onto of the straight one and bend forward at waist, keeping back straight for another stretch.)
*Legs spread wide stretches (floor) - side bends each side (great for the QL) and forward reach (great for adductors).
*Double pigeon (or logs on a fire as I know it) is my favorite for hips
*Child pose (need to add a little more of the QLs and Lats into the stretch? Slowly walk your hands to the side while pushing the opposite hip out.)
As always, please remember to do a gentle warm up before you go into any deep stretches. Get the blood flowing and muscles moving for a bit first. Do arm circles, march in place, trunk twists, shoulder rolls, slow neck yes and no’s, or any other gentle movements to wake your body up and get the muscles warmed up a bit. I would also like to advise that if you feel any pain to stop immediately. Stretching should be gentle and work with your own flexibility, not cause pain. Move into a stretch until you feel a slight barrier of resistance and breathe into it. Never push beyond where your body resists. This could cause a tear or injury and be counterproductive. With time, you will be able to move into a stretch deeper, but only when your body is ready.
I hope some of these links are helpful to you. Take care of yourself. You only get one body, so let’s keep it moving and feeling good.
Courtney Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.